Activity Plan for 2016

1. Introduction

2. The external assessment of A3ES and the ESG

3. Prior accreditation of new study cycles

4. The regular accreditation cycle for programmes in operation

5. The revalidation of accreditation – Alignment with the regular accreditation cycle

6. The follow-up of conditional accreditations

7. Certification of internal quality assurance systems

8. Student participation in accreditation

9. Coordination with other entities

10. Other actions to be developed in 2016

10.1. Preparation of the second regular assessment cycle from 2016

10.2. Institutional assessment

10.3. Assessment of distance education

11. Internal quality assurance at A3ES

12. Internationalisation

13. Visibility of the Agency

14. Chronology of events

 

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1. Introduction

The year 2015/16 is the last one of the first complete regular assessment/accreditation cycle of all the available study cycles, being expected that all the low quality programmes in operation have been eliminated. In general, all processes (assessment/accreditation of study cycles, certification of internal quality assurance systems and recruitment and training of students for reviews) are stabilised.

As this first assessment/accreditation cycle comes to a conclusion in 2016 it will be necessary to define the procedures for the new regular cycle to be initiated in 2017, and to update the Agency's database. By the end of 2016 it will be possible to compare the new data with those collected in 2009/10, and to assess the progress made in what concerns the higher education network and other relevant elements on the system’s operation and to evaluate the extent to which the present system has been effective.

As it has been referred in previous years of the Agency's activity, the new regular assessment cycle should correspond to a more flexible and less intrusive regime for the study cycles of those education institutions demonstrating higher operational quality by taking into account the results of the first assessment cycle, the presence of certified internal quality assurance systems and the values of a number of performance indicators to be defined.

Moreover, once completed the first complete assessment/accreditation cycle, it will be necessary to define the methodology for institutional assessment as foreseen in the legislation, which should not be mixed up with the certification processes of the internal quality assurance systems. The institutional assessment needs to take into account the results of the accreditation of all study cycles, the assessment of research activity and the institutional governance and it will be necessary to define the level to be considered – university/polytechnic or their units.

The Agency, having completed the processes to become a full member of ENQA and to be registered with EQAR, needs to respond to the recommendations of the assessment report and to carefully analyse the consequences of the changes to the European Standards and Guidelines recently endorsed by the European Ministers assembled in Yerevan, in May 2015.

The Agency needs to resume, with the new government, the proposal for regulating distance education, which was not completed in the present legislature, and should carefully analyse the norms and standards for the accreditation of new study cycles in the area of non-conventional medicines. This will be a rather complex task because it is an activity, which apparently attracts a large number of interested parties, even if the availability of specialised human resources is quite scarce. To make things worse, the legislation passed by Parliament is rather permissive in relation to schools already operating in this area, which are allowed to stay in operation for five years, even if they eventually do not fulfil the necessary conditions to be accredited as higher education institutions.

At last, the Agency is implementing measures to enhance its societal visibility, and at the same time maintaining its adherence to rigorous and independence standards and avoiding sensationalisms. The ultimate objective of assessment/accreditation activities is quality improvement, in permanent dialogue with those being evaluated and avoiding attitudes, which may result in their humiliation or loss of prestige.

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2. The external assessment of A3ES and the ESG

As referred in previous reports, the A3ES went through an international review promoted by ENQA. The results were very positive and the ENQA’s review team consider that A3ES was "an excellent organisation contributing to the enhancement of higher education quality in Portugal. The review team believes that the agency meets all expectations to justify full membership of ENQA". This result has allowed A3ES to become a full member of ENQA and later to become registered in EQAR, the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education.

ENQA's report presents three recommendations, which were later taken over by EQAR. These recommendations refer that A3ES should carry on its efforts in three specific areas:

  1. In the use of internal quality assurance systems which have not yet been generalised to every institution.
  2. In increasing student participation in external review teams.
  3. In improving the external assessment reports by making them more clear and accessible to the general public.

The European Education Ministers have endorsed in the Yerevan meeting, in 14-15 May 2015, the changes to the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG), which need to be considered in future assessments of A3ES.

The first two recommendations have been already dealt with. On the one hand the development of the internal quality assurance systems is a legal obligation and a responsibility of every institution. A3ES has in full operation a system for the certification of those systems and we are it is expected that its use by institutions will be promoted by the new system to be implemented for the second regular accreditation cycle to be implemented from 2016/17. On the other hand, available statistics show that there is already a very large student participation in the external review teams.

The last question is more complex and becomes quite acute due to changes to § 2.6 of ESG endorsed by Ministers in Yerevan. These changes recommend that the assessment reports must be written for the general public. Moreover, the new ESG promote the bureaucratic vision of assessment to new horizons, for instance by defining uniformly the report contents, ignoring that this kind "one size fits all" is not adequate for the large diversity of the European systems. For example, in some countries institutional level assessments are in place while other countries rely on individual accreditation of study programmes, while in Portugal a combination of both methodologies is foreseen. In Portugal A3ES produces, on average, about 1000 reports every year, while in Ireland only 3 are produced.

The opinion of A3ES, already put forward in the previous report, that the fundamental objective of the assessment/accreditation exercises in improving the learning experience of students, which needs a debate by peers of scientific and pedagogic questions associated to each individual study cycle, which requires the use of adequate language, not always accessible to the general public. And this idea should not be compromised by a popularisation of the written documents to make them available to the general public, as recognised by the Scientific Council in its 5th report. A3ES hopes to be able to discuss this problem in the next ENQA’s General Assembly in Dublin, 22-23 October 2015 so that more flexible and diversified approaches will become possible.

A possible approach, already suggested in the new ESG [The preparation of a summary report may be useful] was also considered by A3ES in the previous report: "the eventual possibility of using the conclusions of the final assessment reports to comprise a summary, only in Portuguese, making more evident for the general public the justification of the accreditation decisions". However, as this approach will imply a very sizeable effort, as about 1000 reports are produced every year, as we are almost completing the first evaluation cycle, it was decided that this change will be considered only when the updating the Agency electronic platform will be made for the new assessment cycle.

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3. Prior accreditation of new study cycles

The prior accreditation procedure is now well stabilised and the 6th annual accreditation cycle is underway. There has been a substantial reduction in the number of applications for new study cycles, from 394 to 225. Table 1 presents the results for 2015/16. The lower number of applications is the result of the ending of the adaptation processes of teacher training programmes for basic and secondary education to changes promoted by government. Almost completed are also the adaptations of study cycles in the areas of Diagnosis and Therapeutic Technologies resulting from the merger of several specialities – Medical Image and Radiotherapy (aggregation of Nuclear Medicine, Radiology and Radiotherapy), Clinical Physiology (aggregation of Cardiopneumology with Neurophysiology) and Biomedical Laboratory Sciences (aggregation of Clinical Analysis and Public Health with Pathologic, Cytological and Tanatologic Anatomy).

Table 1 – Accreditation proposals of new study cycles
  Public University Private university Public Polytechnic Private Polytechnic TOTAL
  2014/15 2015/16 2014/15 2015/16 2014/15 2015/16 2014/15 2015/16 2014/15 2015/16
Licenciatura 30 11 12 11 36 28 14 29 92 79
Master 107 33 36 32 81 35 33 8 257 108
Integrated Master 4 4 0 2 - - - - 4 6
PhD 24 20 17 12 - - - - 41 32
Total 165 68 65 57 117 83 45 37 394 225

Public institutions, and namely in the case of universities, are those where there was the large decrease in new proposals. For the private sector the decrease is much lower. It is also interesting to notice the very large decrease in the number of proposed new masters, which is mainly the result of the completion of the adaptation process of teacher training programmes.

We also need to consider that legislation passed by Parliament has created seven new professions in the area of Non-conventional Medicine. So far the Government has published the regulations for five of those professions: Acupuncture, Phytotherapy, Naturopathy, Osteopathy and Chiropractic. The difficulty in recruiting an academic staff complying with the legal requirements has apparently limited the number of new proposals. There were only 16 proposals, 9 for Osteopathy, 3 for Naturopathy, and 2 for each of the areas of Acupuncture and Phytotherapy.

At last we have to register new attempts to create a new higher education institution (University Institute) at Espinho and to recover the Universidade Atlântica following a new major shareholder participation from a Spanish composite materials company CARBURES, as well as a number of new proposals for doctoral programmes from private universities which need to fulfil the legal requirements set under article 42 of Law 62/2007 of 10 September.

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4. The regular accreditation cycle for programmes in operation

In 2012, the first regular 5-year cycle began, in which the assessment/accreditation system will be applied to those study programmes which received prior accreditation and which are still in operation. These study programmes will undergo a formal assessment/accreditation process by an External Assessment Team, including foreign experts, who will visit the institution in order to produce a report supporting the resolutions, whether positive or not, of the Management Board. At the end of 2016 there will be a new exercise for updating the data basis of the Agency taking into account the conclusion of the cycle.

The scheduling of the assessment/accreditation cycle was planned according to the different scientific areas in order to ensure a fairly uniform distribution of the number of assessments in each year of the cycle. This distribution and the scheduling of assessment was discussed with the organisations representing higher education institutions (CRUP – Council of Rectors of Portuguese Universities, CCISP –The Portuguese Polytechnics Coordinating Council, and APESP – Association of Private Higher Education Institutions) and confirmed with all the institutions.

The Agency will continue to promote training activities for the experts integrating the External Assessment Teams.

The study programmes covered in this 5th (and last) year of the regular assessment/accreditation cycle to be run in 2016 are presented in Table 2.

Table 2 - Scientific areas covered in the 5th year of the regular assessment/accreditation (ACEF 2015/2016)
Scientific Area 1st cycle Integrated masters 2nd cycle 3rd cycle Total
Arts/Fine Arts 33   29 9 71
Mother Tongue and Literature 12   24 14 50
Philosophy and Theology 13 3 16 13 45
Geography 6   14 5 25
Physics and Physical Engineering 8 4 10 18 40
Earth Sciences and Mining Industries 16   33 17 66
Medicine and Health Sciences 5 7 36 21 69
Nursing 31   36 2 69
Dental Sciences 4 6 7 2 19
Pharmaceutical Sciences 12 9 11 2 34
Gerontology 5   10 0 15
Pilotage 1   1 0 2
Public Health Services 3   8 4 15
Military, Police and Internal Security Sciences 24 21 3 0 48
Total 173 50 238 107 568

* - Data relative to 1st October 2015

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5. The revalidation of accreditation – Alignment with the regular accreditation cycle

Regulation no. 392/2013 of A3ES approves the assessment and accreditation procedures for higher education institutions and their study programmes. Article 40 of the regulation determines that "the institution willing to maintain the operation of the accredited study cycles must apply for accreditation renewal before the end of the academic year preceding the year when the prior accreditation prescribes". The first accreditation decisions of the Agency are from 2010 (process NCE 2009), which means that in 2015 will occur the first cases of renewal of accreditations given for a five year period.

To maintain the operability of the assessment/accreditation process it is necessary to ensure that in the case of new study cycles which received previous accreditation, and in the case of study cycles which were assessed/accredited outside the regular cycle (both will be referred to as "non-aligned study cycles") the year of assessment for renewal of accreditation purposes will be, as much as possible, aligned with the year for assessment of their education area in the regular assessment/accreditation cycle. The Executive Board has approved a special procedure defining the mechanisms and deadlines to apply for the renewal of accreditation.

In 2016 the regular procedure of assessment/accreditation (process ACEF 2015/2016) will be used for 54 study cycles accredited as "new study cycles" in 2010 and 2011 (30 study cycles NCE 2009 and 24 study cycles NCE 2010). These study cycles belong to scientific areas to be assessed in 2015/16 within the regular assessment/accreditation cycle. The institutions will be asked to complete the self-evaluation guidelines made available in the Agency’s electronic platform. Within the deadline defined for the 5th year of the regular assessment/accreditation cycle (28 December 2015).

Within the same deadline institutions will present in the electronic platform Special Applications for the Renewal of Accreditation (process PERA 2015/2016) relative to 101 study cycles which were accredited as new study cycles in 2010, and complete in 2016 the normal six year accreditation period. It is a simplified assessment/accreditation procedure aiming at extending the accreditation (between 2 to 4 years) until the year when the CNAEF area of the study cycle will be included in the regular assessment/accreditation cycle.

During the first trimester of 2016 institutions will be given notice indicating the study cycles with accreditation expiring in 2017 and which need the submission of renewal applications until the end of 2016.

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6. The follow-up of conditional accreditations

In the case of conditional accreditation of study cycles the institution is asked to submit a follow-up report demonstrating the fulfilment of the conditions set in the accreditation decision. In 2016 ends the period of conditional accreditation of some 350 study cycles in these circumstances. In agreement with the defined procedures the Agency will make the institution aware two months in advance that it must submit the follow-up reports until the end of the month prior to the end of the accreditation period.

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7. Certification of internal quality assurance systems

In 2012, the Agency undertook an experimental exercise to apply the audit process with the participation of five higher education institutions whose internal quality assurance systems had reached an advanced stage of implementation and who volunteered to take part. In 2013, minor alterations will be made to the previously mentioned Handbooks and Guidelines, based on the experience gained from this exercise, which validated the model adopted. A report assessing this experimental exercise will also be published.

As from and including 2013, the audit process is available for all higher education institutions interested who in November may declare its interest in participating n the audit process next year. From 2013 to 2015 A3ES has organised audits with the participation of 11 new institutions. In 2016 a new exercise will take place for institutions applying in October/November 2015.

An annual Workshop will continue be organised with participating institutions, as a preparatory phase of this process. The Agency will continue to be available to collaborate in initiatives of HEIs, which aim to encourage academic communities to take an active part in quality assurance and enhancement activities.

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8. Student participation in accreditation

The recruitment and training process of students as evaluators has been repeated every year. It is foreseen to have a number of newly recruited students for the 2016 assessments, allowing that most External Review Teams will integrate a student. For this purpose a new tender was opened in September 2015 for students enrolled in the areas under assessment. Training sessions with the students will be organised in December 2015.

The Commissions for audits of the Internal Quality Assurance Systems have always integrated a student.

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9. Coordination with other entities

There has been some difficulty in maintaining simultaneous coordination meetings with the Directorate-General of Higher Education and the General Inspectorate of Education and Science. Therefore the Agency has decided to organise whenever necessary meetings with the relevant organisation on a case by case basis.

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10. Other actions to be developed in 2016

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10.1. Preparation of the second regular assessment cycle from 2016

The first regular cycle of assessment/accreditation has focused on the study cycle level and will be completed in 2016. This cycle has allowed for the elimination of the worst cases of low quality and has encouraged institutions to develop and certify their internal quality assurance systems while eliminating the study cycles they considered inadequate. At the same time the standards for the qualification of the academic staff have allowed for its improvement, which is visible in the progressive increase of academics holding a doctoral degree and with relevant international publications. However, there remain important difficulties in the use of the concept of specialist.

However, the first cycle was a very demanding and exhaustive exercise, both at financial level and in the use of human resources. Therefore, it will be desirable to design a more flexible and simplified system for the second assessment cycle to be initiated in 2017. This change must be carefully planned without wasting the rigour and efficiency of the accreditation processes. Moreover there are numerous international examples resulting in the replacement of a simplified system for a more rigorous one whenever there was a public perception that simplification has corresponded to a lower level of the system’s rigour and efficiency.

We need to design a second different cycle that needs to take into account several questions:

  1. The changes to the European Standards and Guidelines endorsed by the European Ministers of Education in Yerevan;
  2. The increasing emphasis in measuring "learning outcomes";
  3. The lessons of the recognised failure lof the OECD AHELO Project for measuring "learning outcomes".

In 2016 A3ES will present the new system for assessment/accreditation based on "quality enhancement" principles. The new system will be designed in collaboration with representatives from CRUP, CCISP, APESP and students. The new system intends to use a more flexible methodology in those cases where a combination of factors is present:

  1. A good accreditation record in the 1st assessment cycle completed in 2016.
  2. Qualification level of academic staff above the national average level.
  3. Good research level certified by the assessment results of research units (at least very good).
  4. Availability of an internal quality assurance system certified by the Agency.

When there is the simultaneous presence of all those conditions a simplified and more flexible system will be applied eventually relying on a sampling process associated to a panel of performance indicators, which will be chosen from the report entitled "Indicadores de Desempenho para Apoiar os Processos de Avaliação e Acreditação de Ciclos de Estudos" [Performance Indicators for Supporting the Assessment and Accreditation Processes of Study Cycles], which was promoted by the Agency.

It will also be necessary to define separately the standards for university institutions and polytechnic institutions. The results of a project underway on performance indicators for polytechnic education will be used namely in what concerns research and third mission activities.

The new system will also include an updating of the data basis that was created with the preliminary accreditation of the study cycles. This updating will imply that every institution will provide data on its complete educational offer, which will allow for a better appraisal of the adequacy of the available resources to the total educational offer.

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10.2. Institutional assessment

To comply with the prescriptions of Law no. 38/2007, of 16 August, A3ES will promote the design of an institutional assessment system hat taken in consideration the internal quality assurance systems. In compliance with the legislation, once completed the first accreditation cycle of all study programmes the A3ES can initiate an institutional assessment/accreditation system as it is foreseen under regulation 392/2013. This process will allow namely to check if institutions comply with the conditions set of their operation (e.g. tye nminimu number of doctoral degrees in universities and university institutes) as defined by Law 62/2007 (RJIES – Juridical Regime of Higher Education Institutions).

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10.3. Assessment of distance education

The legislation regulating the higer education system (Law 62/2007 of 10 September) has not defined the standards for the accreditation of distance education stating that these standards would be defined in a special decree. The Secretary of State for Higher Education has appointed a Commission presided by the President of the Executive Board of the Agency and integrating representatives of the different components of the higher education system to draft the standards for study cycles offered in non-presential modes of delivery. Unfortunately, although a proposal was prepared and duly presented to the Ministry the process was delayed and must be resumed with a new government.

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11. Internal quality assurance at A3ES

The quality policy statement formally adopted by the Agency expresses its permanent commitment to quality, and takes for granted that the assurance of quality in the performance of its functions is essential in order to ensure the credibility of its actions and the trust deposited in it by interested parties, namely higher education institutions, students, the government and society in general.

Within the ambit of this policy, and in order to give furtherance to quality procedures implemented in previous years, the following initiatives are foreseen for 2016:

  • External feedback will be collected using mechanisms which promoting the direct contact with different stakeholders, will promote the systematic collection of comments and suggestions from higher education institutions and members of the External review Teams by using questionnaires following the assessments; in 2016 the Agency will use namely questionnaires on the assessment/accreditation process of study cycles n operation and the audit process of internal quality assurance systems.
  • The Advisory Council will be consulted within the terms foreseen in the Statutes of the Agency.
  • The Scientific Council (whose members include foreign experts) will be consulted.
  • Formal and informal internal feedback will be obtained, namely through means of a survey and from the annual meeting of the Management Board with the Project Coordinators.
  • Information obtained will be processed for each survey and a report will be published on the conclusions and on improvement measures to be adopted.
  • Further training for Agency workers and for members of the External Assessment Teams will be provided, including students applying to become evaluators.

Within the ambit of the improvement of processes and procedures, minor adjustments will me made to the self-evaluation guidelines and the electronic platform whenever justified by the continuous monitoring of processes.

The internal quality assurance of the Agency comprises also producing studies aiming to improve its quality assurance processes and those of higher education institutions.

It is also relevant to point out the publication of volume 13 of the series A3ES Readings entitled "Importance of the Degree of Implementation of the A3ES Referentials in the Portuguese Higher Education Institutions". This report results from a research project conducted by the Centro de Investigação de Políticas do Ensino Superior (CIPES) for A3ES on the development of internal systems of quality assurance. The main aim of this project was to understand the importance that the referentials proposed by A3ES for those systems have for national institutions as a framework model and to assess the degree of implementation of those referentials in Portuguese HEIs.

There are three additional studies underway:

  1. Mobility patterns of higher education studies. The project intends to determine the characteristics of the networks which can be obtained by analysing the mobility patterns of students in the national territory (for example, the network of the flow of applicants between administrative regions – districts – and the network obtained by discriminating the candidates to each academic programme); which are the determinants of the mobility of higher education students (for example, institutional qualities, characteristics of the local labour market) ; which is the impact of recent changes to legislation (for instance the mandatory nature of some access examinations to specific areas such as Engineering or Economics) over the identified student mobility patterns; which is the impact of structural changes to the higher education network (for instance, merger or closure of institutions) in the geographical distribution of students; and, at last, how changes in the allocation of vacancies, namely by changing the numeri clausi /or the placing system by application marks may change the identified patterns and how demographic changes may promote the reconfiguration of the network or the change (or not) of the identified patterns.
  2. "Access, success and failure. Student routes in Higher Education". This project aims to analyse the data for 1st cycle students, enrolled for the first time in the participating universities: Universidade de Évora, Universidade de Lisboa, Universidade do Minho and Universidade do Porto. The students to be considered are those placed by the eneral quota of the national tender. Using as reference the year 2009/10 in the first phase of this project, and using a quantitative-statistic approach, students enrolled for the first time if the first academic year are followed identifying the access trajectories and the success, failure and dropout routes. The information on access will be collected in a comparable way in each of the four participating universities. At the end of this first phase an intermediate report will be produced describing the main results. This will allow for a discussion of the more relevant questions to be further analysed in the second phase of the project (for instance, which education and training areas are going to be analysed). The work team will inputs on the choice of areas. In the second phase, aiming to understand the students’ routes (1st cycle) in its relation to access, success, failure and dropout, it is foreseen to draw qualitative research routes focussing on clues, which emerged in the first phase of the project. With this objective in mind, specific research instruments will be built and validated, and their administration in the context of the four universities will allow obtaining data that will support the final conclusions of the project
  3. "Learning Outcomes. From implementation to assessment from a treble vision of learning outcomes: HEIs, students and employers". This research aims to contribute to the assessment and reflection over the level of implementation, materialisation and assessment of learning outcomes by Portuguese HEIs. Through the analysis of international policies with special emphasis in the European context and having as reference the orientations of the Portuguese National Qualification Framework (Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior, 2009), we intend to perform a reflection on an holistic approach of the construction, implementation and respective assessment of learning outcomes in the Portuguese higher education system. The aim of this research consists in assessing the level of implementation of learning outcomes by Higher Education Institutions in Portugal, not only in terms of construction but also its materialisation and assessment. Therefore, we want to analyse which competencies are intended by higher education institutions as being the learning outcomes their study programmes provide to students, exploring the processes that are presented to flesh out its promotion and how its attainment is assessed; assessing the adequacy of the learning outcomes proposed by the academia in confrontation with the perceived needs of the labour market; assessing the perceptions of last year students not only about what competencies they consider its study programme is providing but also which competencies they really consider are being acquired.

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12. Internationalisation

The Agency will continue the activities promoting its internationalisation, namely by means of papers published in international reference journals and by participation in activities developed by ENQA and ECA. For 2016 there are already participations foreseen in some conferences:

  1. Participation in the 2016 ENQA General Assembly, date and venue to be defined.
  2. Participation in the CHEA 2016 Annual Conference and the CHEA International Quality Group Annual Meeting, Washington, 25 to 28 January 2016.
  3. Participation in the 6th ENQA Forum, date and venue to be defined.
  4. Participation in the Annual seminar of Internal Quality Assurance, organised by ENQA, place and venue to be defined.
  5. Participation in the 29th Annual Conference of the Consortium of Higher Education Researchers, September 2016, Cambridge.
  6. Participation in the 37th Annual Conference of EAIR (European Association for International Education), under the theme "Only connect: Collaboration, cooperation and capacity building through HE partnerships", 31 August to 3 September, Birmingham.
  7. Participation in the Annual European Quality Assurance Forum, organised EUA, ENQA, EURASHE and ESU, place and venue to be defined.

The Agency, in collaboration with Cipes (Centro de Investigação de Políticas do Ensino Superior), will complete until the end of 2015 the manuscript of a book entitled "Higher Education as Commerce: Cross-Border Education and the Services Directive" [editors Maria João Rosa, Cláudia Sarrico, Orlanda Tavares and Alberto Amaral] with the presentations of the October 2014 Conference. The book will be published by Palgrave McMillan.

A second manuscript for a book entitled "European Policy Implementation and Higher Education. Analysing the Bologna Process" [authors Amélia Veiga, Cristina Sin and Alberto Amaral] will be also completed until the end of 2015 to be published by Palgrave McMillan in 2016.

Following the 2014 international conference A3ES is planning a new Conference for 2016, to continue the debate on the policy implementation in the European. Tentative themes are presented in Annex 1. Following the signature of a cooperation protocol with ANECA (A Spanish quality agency) and a demand for cooperation from the Quality Agency from Lithuania, several Portuguese experts have been collaboration with those agencies.

A3ES has been approached by the Gabinete de Apoio ao Ensino Superior – GAES (Tertiary Education Services Office) of the Government of Macau, being invited to participate in quality assessments in Macau. They also want to analyse our electronic platform, which is considered very efficient, for its eventual adaptation to Macau and they also enquired about eventual consultancy services.

The Agency will continue its participation in research projects financed by the European Commission, in collaboration ENQA, ECA and other European Quality Agencies, which includes:

At last, the Agency will continue to have the support and advice from a group of international experts in higher education policies, who arevthe members of its Scientific Council.

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13. Visibility of the Agency

The Agency wants to answer to the recommendations of ENQA’s international assessment and of EQAR in relation to the final assessment reports, to the recommendations of the Board of Trustees for increasing its visibility towards society, as well as to the recommendations of the Scientific Council, while paying attention to the consequences of the recent changes to the European Standards and Guidelines.

The Executive Board maintains its opinion, also supported by the Scientific Council, that the fundamental aim of the reports is quality improvement. Therefore their prime audience (institutional leadership, academic staff, quality managers) needs refined and technical information, quite diverse from a text for the general public. However, this opinion does not find echo with the recommendations fom the ENQA reviewers and, moreover, the changes to the ESG propose a reporting structure incompatible with the assessment of individual study cycles. For instance, it does not seem very feasible to include in every single assessment report of individual study cycles information about context (helping to locate the institution in its specific context), as well as the description of procedures. This question will be raisd at the next ENQA General Assembly, in Dublin. The possibility of including in each final report a summary [only in Portuguese] for students, their families and the general public was analysed but, as was already referred in this report, it was decided to postpone this change until the modifications are made to the guidelines for the second assessment cycle beginning in 2017.

However, the Agency has a set of databases containing very relevant information about the higher education system. This information comes from data collected by the Agency from the assessment/accreditation processes as well as from other databases available through agreements and protocols with the Direção-Geral do Ensino Superior (General Directorate for Higher Education), the Direção-Geral de Estatísticas da Educação e da Ciência (General Directorate for Education and Science Statistics) and the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (Foundation for Science and Technology). Using these data it was decided in 2015 to promote the publication of synthetic documents for each of the assessed CNAEF areas, which will allow both for answering the recommendation of the Board of Trustees for increasing the public visibility of the Agency and at the same time bridging the need to provide information over the context of each scientific area.

Therefore, the Executive Board proposes for 2016 the following activities

  1. Carrying on with the publication of a synthetic document for each of the assessed scientific areas. This document will be disclosed to the higher education institutions and the media. These documents will provide a panorama of each area and of its evolution over the last years. In 2015 the first three documents were published for Civil Engineering, Architecture and Psychology. At present the thematic studies for "Electonics and Automation", "Sports", "Accounting and Taxation, "Marketing", "Hospitality, Tourism and Catering" and "Political Science and Citizenship" are completed and will be published in early 2016.
  2. Carrying on with the publication of books in the series "A3ES Readings", using the results of the research projects on "Mobility Patterns of Higher Education Students", "Success and failure in higher education" and "Measurement of learning outcomes" when they are completed.
  3. The publication with Palgrave McMillan of a book entitled "Cross border higher education and the Services Directive", containing the presentation of the 2014 conference and of a book entitled "European Policy Implementation and Higher Education. Analysing the Bologna Process".
  4. Organisation of a new international conference in 2016 on the implementation of European policies for higher education and the role of the European Court of Justice.

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14. Chronology of events

The following pages present the chronology of activities planned for 2013. During this period, the priorities of the Agency will be centred on completing the first regular cycle of assessment/accreditation, the updating of the data basis, which will allow for the assessment of the efficiency of the system and the definition of the new regular cycle to be initiated in 2017, as well as on the procedures for institutional assessment.

O Conselho de Administração,

Alberto Manuel Sampaio Castro Amaral

Jacinto Jorge Carvalhal

João Alexandre Botelho Duarte Silva

Sérgio Machado dos Santos

Paulo Jorge dos Santos Silva Santiago

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Chronogram
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Prior accreditation
Assessment of proposals for new study cycles X X X X
Decisions on proposals for new study cycles X X X
New cycle of proposals for new study cycles X X
Appointment of reviewers X X
Preliminary analysis of proposals of new study cycles X X
Audit of internal systems
Declaration of interest in participation in 2016 X X
Selection of institutions to be audited in 2016 X
Workshop for participating institutions X
Submission of self-evaluation reports in the platform X X X
Selection of Review Teams X
Training of reviewers X
Audit visits X X X
Start of accreditation decisions X
Conditions and deadlines for participation in 2017 X
Declaration of interest in participation in 2017 X X
Selection of institutions to be audited in 2017 X

 

Chronogram
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Regular acreditation cycle
Appointment of reviewers for 2016 X X
Training of reviewers for 2016 X X X
Visits of review teams X X X X X X X X
Accreditation decisions X X X X
Timing for the 2016 assessment of the system X X
Submission of self-evaluation reports in the platform X X X
Diverse actions
2016 activity report and accounts for the Board of Trustees X X
2016 activity report for the Advisory Council X X
2017 activity plan and budget for Board of Trustees X X
2017 activity plan for the Advisory Council X X X
Meeting of the Scientific Council X
Recruitment and training of students X X X X
New cycle
Definition of performance indicators X X
New guidelines X X X X
Changes of the electronic platform X X X X X X
Updating of the data basis X X
Timing of the new cycle activities X X X


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